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Trump pushed Pence to reject key votes


The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on Thursday put the highlight on former Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to assist then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The committee’s third public hearing examined the extraordinary pressure Trump and his allies heaped on Pence to reject key electoral votes when he presided over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, to verify President Joe Biden’s victory. The hearing also focused heavily on John Eastman, a lawyer advising Trump who pushed the dubious legal theory that Pence held virtually unilateral power to overturn the election.

Listed below are the primary takeaways from the hearing:

Pence’s life was at risk

Pence got here inside about 40 feet of among the pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol constructing, said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., who led much of Thursday’s hearing.

“Make no mistake concerning the proven fact that the vice chairman’s life was at risk,” Aguilar said.

A demonstrator holds a mannequin wearing a noose with “Traitor” written on it during a protest on the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

He noted that a confidential informant from the Proud Boys told the FBI that members of the far-right group “would have killed Mike Pence if given a probability,” in response to a recent court filing by the Department of Justice.

Pence didn’t leave the Capitol on Jan. 6 but was transferred to a secure location within the constructing through the riot.

Pence showed “courage” on that day by defying Trump, committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said firstly of the hearing.

But that resolve put the vice chairman in “tremendous danger” when Trump “turned the mob on him,” Thompson said.

Trump, Eastman were told Pence couldn’t overturn the election

Witnesses, each in person and in taped depositions, testified that quite a few officials told Trump and Eastman that Pence couldn’t perform the scheme to overturn the 2020 contest. But Trump and Eastman nevertheless continued to pressure Pence and his team.

Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a taped interview with the committee that the vice chairman told Trump “repeatedly” before Jan. 6 that he didn’t have the legal authority to dam the certification of the election.

Former Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said he had heard that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone “thought the thought was nutty and had at one point confronted Eastman with the identical sentiment.”

Other officials also thought Eastman’s theory “was crazy” and would tell “anyone who would listen,” Miller said.

What’s more, former Pence counsel Greg Jacob told the panel that Eastman admitted someday before the Capitol riot that his legal theory can be rejected 9-0 if it went before the Supreme Court.

On the morning of Jan. 6, Trump raged at Pence in a tense phone call. He said the vice chairman was weak and a “wimp,” witnesses told the committee. Ivanka Trump’s former chief of staff, Julia Radford, said that Trump’s daughter told her after the decision that the president had called Pence “the P word.”

In a rally outside the White House that began shortly before the mob breached the Capitol, Trump again heaped pressure on Pence to reject the election results: “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we turn into president.”

Eastman sought a presidential pardon after the riot

Eastman told former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he desired to be added to the list of presidential pardon recipients, the committee revealed.

“I’ve decided that I must be on the pardon list, if that remains to be within the works,” Eastman wrote, in response to a screenshot of an email displayed through the panel’s third hearing.

That email was sent days after the Capitol riot, Aguilar said. It also got here after a Jan. 7 conversation with White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, who said he told Eastman, “I’m going to provide you one of the best free legal advice you are ever getting in your life: Get an ideal effing criminal defense lawyer; you are going to need it.”

Trump didn’t pardon Eastman. Under questioning by the Capitol riot investigators, Eastman pleaded the Fifth 100 times, Aguilar said.

Trump pardoned quite a few allies during his final days in office.

The investigation and the threat to democracy posed by the riot are ongoing

The select committee is scheduled to carry 4 more public hearings in June. During each, lawmakers intend to put out a special element of a coordinated conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election.

The panel has teased its plans to indicate in future hearings how Trump tried to get the Justice Department to challenge the election results, how he pushed officials in key states to undo Biden’s victories, and the way he led a violent mob to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Committee aides have stressed that the hearings represent only the initial findings from the nearly yearlong probe which remains to be ongoing.

That was made especially clear on Thursday, as committee leaders Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., confirmed that they wish to speak with Ginni Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Ginni Thomas has come under intense scrutiny in recent months following reporting on her efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.

Retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig warned in Thursday’s hearing that Trump stays a “clear and present danger” to American democracy, which was gravely threatened on Jan. 6 and is now “on a knife’s edge.”

The following hearing is ready for Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.

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